The First Week of the NBC World Series has been set, and the Kansas Collegiate League is well represented.
In addition to the Liberal Bee Jays and Kansas Cannons who automatically qualified for Championship Week by winning the two divisions of the league, three other league teams have been invited to First Week to give the league a total of five teams in the NBC World Series.
The entire Jayhawk Conference was included. Hays earned their way in to the First Week tournament by winning the KCLB post season tournament. That tournament did not include the Liberal Bee Jays or the Kansas Cannons.
First Week also allowed two at-large bids, and they both were awarded to KCLB teams. Wellington came in second at the KCLB tournament and was given an invite, and the Dodge City A’s also earned a ticket after finishing third in the post-season league tournament.
Two other teams from the former Jayhawk Conference were also included in the First Week tournament, the Derby Twins and Great Bend Bat Cats. Those two teams, along with the Haysville Aviators, El Dorado Broncos and Oklahoma City A’s pulled out of the Jayhawk League after the 2018 season.
If their goal was to avoid the top-tier teams from the former conference, the results may be somewhat mixed.
Derby and Great Bend will be making appearances at the NBC World Series, but they both have former Jayhawk League foes in pool play. Derby is in the same pool with Dodge City, and Great Bend shares a pool with Hays.
The Sunflower Collegiate League matched the KCLB by placing five teams in the NBC World Series. The Haysville Aviators who defected from the Jayhawk League last season and the Cheney Diamond Dawgs both earned Championship Week bids, and along with Derby and Great Bend, the Hutchinson Monarchs earned bids to the First Week tournament.
The State of Kansas has six of the 12 teams in the First Week tournament.
The format of the tournament divides the 12 teams in the First Week into four three-team pools, and after each team in the pool has played, the top two in each pool advance to single elimination bracket play. The two teams that go undefeated in bracket play advance to Championship Week, joining 14 other teams to make a 16-team tournament.
In championship week there are four four-team pools, and after each team has played all the team in the pool, the last place team is eliminated from each pool.
The first place teams in each pool get a bye while the second- and third-place teams pair off against counterparts in other pools (i.e. second in Pool A faces third from Pool C). The winners form those elimination games then face first-place winners from the pools, and the four winners from those games advance to the semi-finals.
The 14 qualifiers for Championship Week include: Santa Barbara Foresters, Lonestar Texas Baseball Club, Kansas Cannons, Colorado Cyclones, Fairbanks, Alaska, Goldpanners, Seattle Studs, San Diego Stars, Liberal Bee Jays, Cheney Diamond Dawgs, San Francisco Seals, Texas Express, Haysville Aviators, Game Day, Colo., Saints and the San Diego Waves.
The First Week will open the NBC World Series Saturday and will play through Wednesday when the two teams that advance will be determined, and Championship Week begins Thursday, Aug. 1. All games will be played at Eck Stadium, home of the Wichita State Shockers.